We are in a beautiful time in the Church. Many of the things that have been relegated to unimportant in previous ages are coming back and understanding is being restored. That is great!
One of the concepts being restored (depending on the circles you frequent you may think it already has been or could be wondering if it actually is being restored) is the recognition that God can communicate in many different ways. Sometimes He gets His message across through something we hear or something we see, other times through a feeling, or a sense, maybe a smell, or an emotion. The ways He communicates are limitless!
In our desire to understand these things and explain them to others, one phrase that is thrown around is “seer”. The phrase is mainly used in the historical books of the Bible and is first used to describe Samuel. The word literally means “one who sees”. To understand the role of the seer, let’s back up a little.
God speaks in many ways, like we mentioned earlier. Any of our senses can be activated by God to communicate something He wants known. He is not limited in His capacity or ability to communicate, so hearing and seeing are not the only ways He speaks. All of the various means He uses to communicate can be put under the heading of revelation—God pulling back the veil so that we can grasp, understand, or experience what He is revealing.
A “prophet” is simply one who communicates a message from someone else. I know there is much more to the role and the office of “prophet”, but the term prophet does simply mean that. A prophet can get their message in many different ways. Ezekiel and Daniel had dreams, visions, transportations, visitations, etc. but are both called prophets.
So the term “prophet” is a broad term and the term “seer” is a more specific term that fits under the broader category of one who communicates what God reveals. Said in another way, all seers are prophets but not all prophets are seers. One is a category that allows for any type of revelation (prophet) and the other is a specific term describing how the revelation came (seer).
So a seer is one who sees things that God reveals. If you see stuff from God, you see stuff from God. One who sees and one who hears both are receiving from God (if it is God speaking which is assumed for our discussion) but in different ways. Someone else may receive from God through their sense of smell. If we had to give that a name, they would be a “smeller”. Another through emotions, they would be called a “feeler” or a burden-bearer. Another may receive in a different way.
There is nothing special about what it is called, there is something special about the God who is communicating. So, “seer” is a descriptive term, not a special title that anyone should try to get, anymore than any other title. As John Paul Jackson said, once someone takes a title they run the risk of thinking they are entitled to something. Don’t worry about what it is called nearly as much as being clear about how you received something from God and what He intended to communicate through it.
If you can answer the question, “What was God trying to reveal and does the person He was trying to communicate to understand what He intended?” then you have done well with the revelation. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if one is called a prophet, a seer, a feeler, or some other term, what matters is, “Was Jesus lifted up? Was God glorified?” Because from an eternal perspective, the only label that matters is “son” or “daughter”.